Former UFC flyweight title challenger Henry Cejudo literally had to walk through flames earlier this week when escaping the wildfires attacking Northern California, putting his upcoming battle with Sergio Pettis at UFC 218 in doubt.
Luckily, despite initial reports that Cejudo broke his ankle while jumping from a second-story window, the flyweight contender only suffered minor burns on his foot. Cejudo did lose his Olympic gold medal in the fire, but that is a minor detail when it comes to a life-or-death situation.
In a recent interview with ESPN.com, Cejudo took some time to discuss his escape from from the wildfires. After ignoring an early-morning fire alarm he woke up hours later to a room full of smoke. From that point on, the details get pretty terrifying.
“I pulled the curtain on the window and it felt like daylight it was so bright,” Cejudo said. “There were houses on fire. The hotel was on fire. I could feel the heat.
“I saw the lobby was on fire and knew there was a stairwell to get down there. I thought, ‘If I go out into the hallway and lock myself out, then I really am dead.’ There was only one way out.”
Once Cejudo decided that jumping out of his two-story hotel window was the best possible option he wasted little time getting to safety. Unfortunately, after landing on a fiery branch and burning the bottom of his foot, Cejudo found himself in a post-apocalyptic world.
“I was deserted,” Cejudo said. “I didn’t see one human being. I didn’t see one cat, dog — nothing. The only noise I heard was the fire.
“As I’m walking up this hill to get a bird’s-eye view of everything, I see two-story mansions on fire. I saw buildings and cars on fire. It was surreal, like a dream. I had no shoes, no time to grab anything but my slacks. I’m walking, barefoot, thinking, ‘Damn, I’m literally in a ring of fire.'”
The 30-year-old was able to escape the entire ordeal with limited injury, but couldn’t save his Olympic gold medal. However, considering Cejudo could have died if he made the wrong decision when escaping his room, the loss of the medal doesn’t really matter in the long run.
“People ask me if I’m sad about it — nah, I’m happy, bro,” Cejudo said. “It’s weird because that type of adrenaline, you’re scared but you’re challenged, too. You become courageous in something like that. It’s a crazy feeling knowing you may die.”
As of now, Cejudo will still fight Pettis at UFC 218 on Dec. 2. That event, which will air live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich., will be headlined by a featherweight title fight between current champion Max Holloway and former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar.